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Are Forms in MS Word Accessible?


From: Jim Byrne Accessible Web Design
Date: Dec 1, 2021 4:17AM


I've been trying to figure out if it is possible to create accessible forms in Word - but there seems to be a lot of competing views on the issue.

I've watched videos that imply that as long as you use good accessibility practice they will be accessible. And I've seen articles that say they might be technically accessible but in practice they are not - because of the way the security protection works:

"You can't make Microsoft Word forms accessible (enough) …"

Are these security issues still relevant to the current version of Word?

Assuming they can't be made accessible, what's the recommended practice for converting them to PDF? Again I've seen competing advice. The standard advice for creating accessible PDFs is to export them as tagged documents - but I've also seen advice (on the Adobe website) saying that, unless the forms are simple, the tagging should be done in the PDF editor itself and that documents should be exported untagged?

As a test I created a form in a Word document and exported it to PDF, but when the I opened it the form fields had gone, apart from the checkboxes. Creating forms in word doesn't seem to be a work well. ????

So is the best advice to create everything in Word apart from the forms - and create the form fields in the PDF editor? (I am aware that accessible forms can also be created on a web page.)

Sorry for the long email. I've been getting frustrated trying to get a clear picture on this.


About Jim Byrne
With over two decades of experience Jim Byrne is one of the UK's most experienced practitioners in the area of accessible web design. Jim provided feedback during the development of WCAG 2 as part of the Guild of Accessible Website Designers. He is the author of a number of technical books, training courses and accessibility guides. Jim was a winner of the equal access category of the Global Bangemann Challenge.

Jim Byrne: Specialist in Accessible Website Design.

Web: http://www.jimbyrne.co.uk

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